MPI eases myrtle rust containment restrictions, but the disease isn't slowing down

Myrtle rust is showing no signs of letting up on its spread across the country.

Photos of Ramarama from Taranaki's Mount Messenger show the latest infestation - it's the first recorded on conservation land.

"Myrtle rust is here to stay and we have known that from the beginning," said MPI incident controller Catherine Duthie.

Myrtle rust affects plants such as pōhutukawa, rātā, mānuka, gum trees and feijoas.

MPI had enforced a ban on moving plants and greenwaste in Taranaki to prevent its spread, but has ended those efforts saying, it's not working.

"We know that it's present from the far north right down to the Wellington region, so these restrictions were only going to control a very minor pathway of spread," Ms Duthie said.

"The most significant pathway of spread is the wind, we can't control that."

But Forest and Bird says the only reason it hasn't worked is because the Ministry has stuffed up its response to myrtle rust.

"We understand that the people who are giving advice to MPI on this have been really frustrated by the fact that MPI's been doing a poor job actually implementing the controls," said spokesperson Kevin Hackwell.

"That that lack of resourcing and dedication to the job is the problem."

Mr Hackwell says time is everything at the moment, and MPI should be trying everything it can to stop myrtle rust.

"It's going to be all over the country, miles faster than would otherwise be the case," he said.

Forest and Bird wants an urgent reversal of MPI's decision.

"Myrtle rust is spread by humans as well as wind and if you can control the human part we can actually slow it down," Mr Hackwell said.

"If you've got a contaminated nursery plants and they're going all around the country then myrtle rust is going to be around the country really fast."

MPI insists its not giving up on fighting myrtle rust, saying properties already infected by the fungal infection will still have restrictions placed on them.